‘The psychological stress is enormous’ – Diversity not a strength in Germany’s troubled school system

A teacher holds a lesson in a school in Bremen, northern Germany. (AP Photo/Joerg Sarbach)
By John Cody
8 Min Read

Germany has accepted millions of migrants over the last few years, and in turn, the country’s school system has been transformed into a diversified, multicultural student body. However, instead of diversity being a “strength,” the data, as well as numerous accounts from teachers and school administrators, points to the perils of a increasing numbers of foreign students.

In a new interview with one of Germany’s top newspapers, principal Norma Grube, who runs two schools in Chemnitz, describes increasingly chaotic conditions where many children have difficulty speaking German, assaults are commonplace, and parent-teacher meetings routinely require interpreters. In fact, there is little Grube tells Die Welt that backs the claims by pro-migration advocates that increasing diversity will bring a brighter future to Germany.

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“Twenty-three different nations meet in the schoolyard, some of whom cannot understand each other at all and who sometimes come from hostile regions, such as Russia and Ukraine. We need a lot of parent-teacher talks, which mostly take place with interpreters. And that brings us to one of the reasons why the teaching profession has become less and less attractive: The psychological stress is enormous and it has increased significantly,” said Grube.

On top of that, there is a level of “brutalization” and disrespect directed at teachers that is impossible for many of them to deal with, which leads to high teacher turnover rates.

Grube’s story is far from unusual as Germany undergoes a massive demographic transformation, with critics of what is happening referring to the Great Replacement, the phenomenon of Europeans being replaced by non-Europeans across the West. In Berlin, 40 percent of students do not speak German as their native language, and in cities like Hamburg, the majority of students have a migrant background. Overall, an astounding 38 percent of all children in elementary schools in Germany have migrant backgrounds.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with students during a visit to the Erika-Mann-Primary school in Berlin, Germany, in a photo dated to Oct. 20, 2011. Merkel is generally seen as responsible for a dramatic shift in Germany’s immigration policy. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, Pool)

Despite a push from the left, including Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, for up to 500,000 immigrants per year, what is happening within Germany’s school system due to mass immigration raises serious questions about the benefits of diversity. In some cases, schools that were once “diverse” are now becoming homogenous, but that is due to an absence of ethnic Germans and the dominance of, for example, Middle Eastern groups. In some of these schools, anti-Semitism is commonplace, with Muslim students partaking in small pranks like taping “Jew” to one student’s back all the way to outright assault in other cases, according to Die Welt.

The demographic transformation in Germany may be a “big picture” issue. However, Grube provides a view of what the situation is increasingly like on the ground for school administrators and teaching staff:

Since the beginning of the month, I have been running two schools that are 35 kilometers apart for one simple reason: My predecessor at the Untere Luisenschule in Chemnitz has retired, and there was simply no colleague around who applied to succeed her. In addition to the shortage of teachers, there is also an increasing shortage of school principals.

My new school is not easy. There is a good social structure in the Ore Mountains, and many teachers have taught their students’ parents. There is good social control and many stable parental homes. In Chemnitz, the student body is significantly more heterogeneous. Around half of the children are not of German origin, which does something to a school.

She says that many new teachers are either reluctant to impose necessary penalties against troublesome students, or in some cases, they are even fearful to do so. In general, there is a tendency to avoid conflict among younger staff, which leads to them losing control of increasingly difficult classroom environments.

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“In general, in the eyes of young people, adults have suffered an enormous loss of authority, teachers in particular. I recently issued a disciplinary measure against a student who called a colleague an ‘asshole.’ Such insults are also part of everyday school life. It’s stressful, it’s stressful. My very first duty is to keep the school safe, so I suspended this student for a week,” she said.

Parents are not much of a help either and often fight school staff when it comes to making changes at home or imposing discipline. In many cases, students represent a tremendous problem, but there is little that the schools can do, as there is nowhere else to send them. Teachers cannot even remove extremely violent students from the schools, according to the principal:

At the beginning of the school year, one student beat another so badly that he had to be hospitalized for two days. I would have gladly expelled him from the school, following the wishes of the staff, but that was not possible because there was no other school place for him in the area. Now, my students and colleagues have to live with him. Their great fear is always that they will not be able to protect the other children at the decisive moment.

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Germany relies on a highly educated workforce to staff its world-class companies and maintain the standard of living Germans are used to. However, the country is increasingly failing on the education front. For example, the “IQB Education Trend for 2021,” presented by the Institute for Quality in Education (IQB), shows that more and more elementary school students are failing to achieve even the minimum standards set by the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in the German language and mathematics.

What that means is that Gemrany’s students are increasingly illiterate and unlikely to join the ranks of Germany’s skilled workforce. As Remix News previously reported, although the study does not attribute any one cause to the precipitous drop-off in standards, it points to immigration and coronavirus lockdown policies. The study also acknowledges that the worst results are from students with an immigrant background.

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